Sunday, August 27, 2006

Paintings, Scupture, Music, Buildings

I hit the culture trifecta today.

First thing, I got outside before it got too hot and muggy and cleaned up the yard; mowing, weed-whacking, etc. I had been letting some of the fast-growing "weeds" along the fence to grow all summer. One was so big, it was like some Pleistocene-era tree. I had to cut it down with the saw on my Leatherman. Fun.

While I finished up mowing, Steph & Aaron called and invited me to join them for brunch at Fireflies. It was excellent, and they had some excellent stories from some of their recent hijinx. They have almost perfected the tandem-storytelling technique that so many couples use. Keep practicing, kids. If you know them, ask about Aaron and the forks, and Steph's concussion.

After brunch, I finished my laundry and Metroed into D.C. to visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. I spent about 2 hours in the museums, mostly in the Modernist and Contemporary sections, my personal favorite styles. I took many pictures, but since flash photography is not allowed, many of the pictures came out bit blurry - I think the 'exposure' time must be longer. Regardless, I got some shots of some of my favorites, but I urge any and everyone to go see it for themselves - there's a lot more, and these photos don't even do these few pieces justice.

There were a few pieces that I especially liked. The Adoration of Saint Joan of Arc by William Fosdick is really something; it's made of fire-etched wood, and is quite striking. Carved in the bottom in French is "My last wishes, my last thoughts, are for my God, my Country, and my King." In the modern gallery, Untitled by Larry Bell is made of panels of smoked glass; it changes appearance from every angle, going from reflective to transparent and back again. Megatron Matrix is a media installation by Nam June Paik, made of grid of monitors and speakers playing old rock music, with images of flags, Olympic Sports, news telecasts, and raster graphics of ducks. It's insane, and hypnotic. Bird in Space by Liz Lerner is an amazing piece made of small rope woven together to make a large, 3D web evocative of a bird in flight. I'd have taken a picture, but it's small white line with white walls behind - it barely shows up.

At 3:00, I went into the basement auditorium for a concert by a classical trio associated with the Smithsonian. They play on instruments from the Museum's collection: a recently restored Steinway piano from the 1940's, a violin from Paris made in the 1770's, and a violincello from Milan made in the 1750's. It was a very nice concert, featuring Trio in C Major (Hob. XV: 27) by Joseph Haydn, Trio in E-flat Major (Op. 70, No. 2) by Ludwig von Beethoven, and Trio in D Minor (Op. 49) by Felix Mendelssohn. I don't have a very good ear for music in general, and classical music especially. I find I like almost all smaller pieces (chamber muic, trios and duets, etc.), but find that larger works (symphonies, operas) are pretty hit-or-miss; some I love, others I can't warm up to.

After the concert, I took a short walk outside to quickly photograph the outside of the Museum, which was originally the United States Patent Office. You can still see busts of great, early inventors like Franklin or Fulton in the lobbies. Walt Whitman thought it was the finest looking building in Washington, and it has hosted many Inaugural Balls, including Lincoln's. And right
across the street, and only 130 years later, is the Martin Luther King Jr. Central Library, designed by the great architect Mies van der Rohe. The two buildings are very different, but both are masterful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my last wishes my last Thought are for my god